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Newbie’s Guide to Paddle Tennis Tournaments

The American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) designed rules and regulations of paddle tennis tournaments to make them fun, engaging and competitive for all players involved. Learn more about paddle tennis and what to expect if this is the first tournament.

The sport of paddle tennis utilizes two pieces of equipment: a ball and paddle. A rubber ball is made up of flocking which keeps the ball from skidding on the surface. The paddle is 18 inches in length and is comprised of up to 87 holes, around ⅜ inches in diameter. Paddles and balls used in tournaments governed by APTA must be approved by the APTA Rules Committee. A second ball and paddle are now allowed during play. Both hands are permissible on the paddle or to switch hand to hand during play. Only one ball is allowed in play so long as it is remains in good condition.

The Game
Paddle tennis tournaments are played as doubles with singles tournaments sometimes being the exception at paddle tennis court. One side spins the paddle to determine who serves first with the winning team getting to choose the right to serve, receive, choose the end or require the other team to make the choice first. All players take appropriate sides to ready for play. The serving team must hit the ball behind the baseline between center mark and sideline, diagonally cross court from the receiver (similar to regular tennis). Balls must pass over the net and hit the deck within the service court before the receiver may return it. Overhand, underhand or sidearm strokes are allowed.

Similar to regular tennis, game scoring begins with zero or ‘love.’ First point begins at 15,
second point 30 followed by 40 then Game. Whomever has the serve calls the score, serving side first followed by receiving team (love­15, 15­15, etc). The game continues until a team wins two points in a row from deuce (both teams scoring 40 points).

All tournament players are required to adhere to some basic rules of sportsmanlike conduct on the court. Etiquette and sportsmanship are fundamental to the sport of paddle tennis. Some examples of behavior which will not be tolerated include:
● Throwing the paddle
● Abusive or foul language
● Verbal or physical threats
● Name calling
Penalties are determined by tournament directors in accordance with the level of severity. Guidelines are designed to promote a positive, fun atmosphere while adhering to a professional code of conduct which supports an elevated level of play for all involved. Tournament players are expected to adhere to the code by doing the following:
● Be punctual
● Compliment good play by both the partner and opponents
● Be gracious at the end of game play
● Say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to opposing team, tournament chairman and committee

A positive experience and atmosphere is possible when everyone is committed to following the code of conduct which elevates the game for all.


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